By Hans-Jurgen Schaal & Robert Nippoldt
Taschen, $49.99, 144 pages
In your cozy home, you can see every room when you enter the front door. Sunlight streams in through the sash windows, shines on the glass of the doors of the built-in cabinets, bounces off the chipped-enamel of the claw foot tub and settles in a dusty haze in the center of your coffee table where Jazz: New York in the Roaring Twenties by Robert Nippoldt and Hans-Jürgen Schaal sits open to a sketch of a topless Josephine Baker as Bessie Smith. You can hear Bessie Smith crooning to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.
“Because rents were so high in Harlem, many families stayed home and organized their own “house-rent parties.” Guests paid a small admission charge and could buy homemade food and drink, with music for dancing supplied by stride piano, all of which brought in enough to pay next week’s rent.”
You love music. You love the 1920s. You love jazz. You love the beginning of African Americans fighting for equal rights. This well-bound, oversized, beautifully sketched book will serve as a centerpiece for friends to flip through as you enjoy the accompanying CD’s tracks that follow, in order, the book’s short biographies of the pioneering artists. Perhaps you’ll learn a bit about the conception of jazz in New Orleans and it’s migration to Harlem where, as Variety once claimed, the nightlife surpassed that of Broadway.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins